Boulder's National Center for Atmospheric Research about to get shiny new supercomputers
It'll look like this. Exciting, we know
For 46 years, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has had a supercomputing center at its Mesa Laboratory headquarters in Boulder. This week, NCAR broke ground on a new facility.
The center uses supercomputers -- which can process 76 trillion operations per second, says NCAR head of Media Relations David Hosansky -- to try to understand complex atmospheric processes like climate change.
Although NCAR's headquarters will stay in Boulder, that site had run out of room, so the new center is in Cheyenne. "These systems, as they've gotten more and more powerful, they require a lot of energy to run and keep cool," explains Krista Laursen, NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center project manager. "We were really at the point where the infrastructure at the Mesa site was maxed out." And because the Mesa lab is in an "environmentally sensitive" area, NCAR was simply not able to get enough power to meet its needs without new construction. The existing infrastructure at the Mesa lab will still be used, she says -- just for different purposes.
After a lengthy bidding process, NCAR went with Wyoming in part because it can harness environmental conditions there to cut down on power usage: NCAR boasts that the Cheyenne site will be 90 percent more energy-efficient than other supercomputing centers. "One of the things the climatology up here in Cheyenne allows for is what we call 'free cooling,'" Laursen says. "You have a huge amount of heat that's generated from these high-processor count systems."
Colorado Rockies vs. San Francisco Giants
TicketsMon., Sep. 4, 1:10pm
Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres
TicketsFri., Sep. 15, 6:40pm
Colorado Rockies vs. Miami Marlins
TicketsMon., Sep. 25, 6:40pm
Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
TicketsFri., Sep. 29, 6:10pm
Denver Outlaws / Major League Lacrosse All Star Game
TicketsSat., Dec. 29, 6:00pm
In most supercomputing centers, that heat would get whisked away essentially by giant air-conditioners; in Wyoming, NCAR plans to use Wyoming's wind and cold to do the air-conditioning job. The center will also capture the heat generated by the computers to warm user-occupied areas.
Not that there will be too many users on-site. The supercomputers at the new center will be hooked up to a super-high-capacity fiber-optic network that will beam their operations anywhere and everywhere. "Our users around the world, they're not even going to notice the facility's moved," Laursen promises.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.